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More ingenious than the bad guys..
May 23, 2005 1:42 PM   Subscribe

A while ago, Cockeyed asked its visitors for ideas on creative and innovative ways that terrorists could launch attacks.

The resulting list is both funny and, at times, quite worrying if you actually think about it. My favourite? Terrorists might start pencil-poking!
posted by Nugget (48 comments total)

 
"Terrorists might send pretzels to the president"
posted by singletrack at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2005


" Terrorists might replace the egg-free cookie dough in B&J's Cookie Dough ice cream with cookie dough containing eggs"
No, please no! Not eggs in cookie dough icecream!
posted by skarmj at 2:42 PM on May 23, 2005


Terrorists might send pretzels to the president

Terrorists might taint baby food Metafilter with cat poop
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2005


"Terrorists might drop deadly castor beans into the three-bean salad at salad bars"
Dastardly! That also strikes at the heart of the potluck dinner.
*waits for invention of sarcasm icon*
posted by Cranberry at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2005


Wow, that guy really likes collecting information.
posted by delmoi at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2005


there are some serious piss-simple things a terrorist might do to really fuck up our shit.

God, I can't even hint at them w/o putting the nation at risk, but I'm talking eg. the contents of a standard test tube being able to cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to where I live.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:05 PM on May 23, 2005


I haven't been to cockeyed.com in a few weeks, so thanks for the pointer to check it out again. Somehow I missed this.

Terrorists might unscrew the tops on ALL salt shakers at public restaurants on the same day
Evil bastards!!
posted by TedW at 3:45 PM on May 23, 2005


I'm not sure I get the humor in creating a great big brainstorm list for terrorists to use to get ideas on how to better kill you and me. Did I miss something?

Yes, I know its supposed to be funny but it isn't funny (okay, some of them are pretty funny like Terrorists might shake it like a Polaroid picture). This is the intarnets equivalent of the dumbass who thinks he's the height of wit by joking about a bomb just as he gets to the security checkpoint at the airport.

I wrote a post along these lines, even published it for a few minutes, before I realized that I was doing homework for people that really and truly want to kill me and everyone I know.
posted by fenriq at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2005


"Terrorists might poison beer and make it explode."

*looks at drink*

Shgood think ima dring scotsh. *hic*
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:38 PM on May 23, 2005


fenriq: There is no terrorist threat.
(deep breath, say it with me-)
"There is no terrorist threat.
There is no terrorist threat.
(I know it's hard, just keep trying)
There is no terrorist threat."

There. Was that so bad?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:40 PM on May 23, 2005


You know, it's not really that 'these guys' have a lack of intelligence as how to 'attack us.' Don't think you're smarter than someone just because he's a crazy extremist; terrorists often plan for years, and consider both causing casualties and the results.

Saying that you don't want to share your ideas because 'terrorists might use them' is cocky, paranoid & stupid.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:45 PM on May 23, 2005


While I'm not sure I agree with Baby_Balrog, I do think that compiling this list does the public good of exposing our weaknesses. The problem isn't so much that the terrorists come up with good ideas, but that we not be caught utterly pants-down by their novelty.
posted by breath at 4:55 PM on May 23, 2005


Cocky, paranoid and stupid? I've been called all three but not at the same time. Do I think terrorists are trolling the internet looking for good ideas? No, not necessarily. Do I still think its kind of stupid to publicize weaknesses? Yes. Do I think the list should be used, as breath notes, to fix those weaknesses? Yes but that would also presuppose a government that reads AND heeds warnings about potential security holes (what memo?).

Baby_Balrog, do you honestly think there aren't terrorists in this country or are you just trying to be cute?
posted by fenriq at 5:09 PM on May 23, 2005


Why aren't there any suicide carbombings in the US? I refuse to really think I am personally in danger from "the terrorists" until there's at least one a month outside of a major metropolitan area.

Oh no, I just gave El Terroristos the benchmark of real fear. Pleas, everyone forgive me!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:23 PM on May 23, 2005


Wow, that guy really likes collecting information.

There isn't much to do here in Sacramento, especially this year with the weather so crappy.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 5:34 PM on May 23, 2005


Terrorists might elect Bush

They've already struck! Fuck!!!
posted by mullingitover at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2005


do you honestly think there aren't terrorists in this country

There are and it's probably no more of a threat than it has been in the past 50 years. The facts are that YOU are not going to be killed by a terrorist attack in this country, most probably.
Something will come along and take your life someday, but it's not going to be terrorists.
There is cause to keep a vigilant eye peeled for suspiscious activity, and the CIA and FBI have a lot of stuff to do and sorting out of "things" but people should not let the threat of terrorism control their life. There's a million things to worry about. It is disengenious to call terrorism the greatest threat to this countries citizens.
It's not.
It's just SOMETHING ELSE to worry about in an evergrowing list.
posted by Balisong at 5:47 PM on May 23, 2005


Do I think there are terrorists in the U.S.? Absolutely.
Do I think there is a terrorist threat? Please.
You're more likely to die choking on peanut butter than be killed by a terrorist.

More like a xenophobic threat, fenriq.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:52 PM on May 23, 2005


Cocky paranoid and stupid one might be, but if Bad People actually did some atrocious thing mirrored in your screenplay or page turner or web post, don't you think you might feel just the tiniest bit queasy?

I assume the fellow edited out any truly good (so to speak) and original ideas. That being said, fenriq ain't wrong. As with so many things, it's funny until it actually happens.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:57 PM on May 23, 2005


Terrorists might make everyone so paranoid that they spend far too much time, money and effort on things that are really very unlikely.

Terrorists might get America to launch an unwise, unwarranted war.

Terrorists might work out a way to annoy people on the internet by not finishing their
posted by sien at 6:14 PM on May 23, 2005


[I]f Bad People actually did some atrocious thing mirrored in your screenplay....

*cough*Lone Gunmen*cough*
posted by djfiander at 6:17 PM on May 23, 2005


Of course, if any of these things did happen, it is possible that the dudes that did them came up with them on their own.

Furthermore, the event wouldn't have happened because somebody put it on the Interweb; the event would have happened because there are some crazy people out there. In my opinion, a violent act is the responsibility of the person who commits that violent act = be it an act of terrorism or a teen that kills himself after listening to Ozzy's "Suicide Solution."
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:20 PM on May 23, 2005


Mr Michaels-
No doubt they could, can, have, and will come up with clever stuff on their own (though for sharp operators, they seem to be missing some pretty obvious and easy things so far, knock wood).

Didn't mean to start a derail too deeply into the let's-not-argue-and-bicker-over-who-killed-who debate. That is to say, I agree, I don't hold Tom Clancy accountable for nutters crashing airliners into the capitol dome or Oliver Stone for copy cat murderers or Mr Osbourne for teen suicides.

On the other hand, I'm glad I didn't write any of that stuff.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:49 PM on May 23, 2005


Y'know, if you think about it, terrorists really aren't all that great about spreading terror. Well, when it comes to terrorizing the U.S., anyway.

See, if you really wanted to spread terror in the U.S., you wouldn't go after just giant landmarks. You'd go after everything. You'd hit little bistros in large cities, you'd spread your people around in little towns and mid-size cities as well. You'd attack places with no strategic value except for the presence of people. Attacking landmarks makes people scared of landmarks. Attacking Waffle Houses and random private residences in some podunk town in the middle of nowhere would really scare people, because then they'd truly think that this kind of thing could happen to them and the terrorists really were everywhere. Better yet, try to find perpetrators outside your ethnic/cultural group (yes, this would be hard), so that people couldn't even depend on stereotypes for their psychological comfort.

Once everyone suspects everyone else, it's an easy step to martial law and the destruction of a democratic country.

The fact that these morons haven't tried these tactics yet is an easy indicator that a "hating freedom" or a need to spread "terror" has nothing to do with their cause. Either that or they're dreadfully incompetent.
posted by schroedinger at 7:02 PM on May 23, 2005


If terrorists really wanted to bring America to a standstill, they would bomb 15 gradeschools, and 25 bridges randomly across the country. All synchronised to go off at once.

Nobody would let their kids go back to school for a long time, people wouldn't want to drive anywhere.

It would be something so easy like this. People would be SCREAMING for Big Daddy Government to use whatever it would take for them to feel safe enough to leave their houses again.

It sucks to write about stuff like this, but writing about it isn't going to magically make it happen, or curtail it.
It just means that people are thinking about such situations.
posted by Balisong at 7:13 PM on May 23, 2005


It might be worth looking up what the IRA did in Britain for 20 years and the response of the British.

There was a group that could blend in effortlessly, had people in their target country, was very well organized and had money, indeed quite a bit was obtained from the US.

Britain survived, easily.

The US is under no great threat from Islamic terrorist UNLESS they get hold of a nuclear weapon. That is the only real problem. And not just a 'dirty bomb'. It has to be a proper nuclear weapon.

Short of that, they are just an annoyance. The only thing they can really do is get the US to behave stupidly and to do damage to its international reputation, launch unwise wars and damage the rule of law within the country. Oooops.

The big thing that most MeFi users should worry about is a car accident.
posted by sien at 7:28 PM on May 23, 2005


The movie "The Siege" goes into this kind of terror. Blowing up a Broadway theater, and a NYC bus, and some other stuff (it's been a while).
posted by smackfu at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2005


Britain survived, easily.

your point is very well taken sien, except to this day you cannot find a trashcan in the tube.

britain's response to the IRA should have been a model for america, but britain was fighting terrorism and america decided to engage in a holy war.
posted by three blind mice at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2005


all i'm going to say is there's at least one item on that list that shouldn't have been posted ... a truly dangerous and frightening idea that i've had ... and refrained from saying

there are some ideas you DON'T want people to have
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2005


Saying that you don't want to share your ideas because 'terrorists might use them' is cocky, paranoid & stupid.

Cocky? No. I'm aware of a very simple attack that would devastate where I live. A simple every-day device that is not radiological or otherwise detectable and can be carried in the palm of the hand. Even if our security apparat were to be on guard for this there is no real defense against it that I am aware of.

I see no gain in telling anyone any real details about this, and I don't see why this would be considered paranoid or stupid either. What would be collosally stupid would be to contribute to this attack's realization, no matter how slight the chances are that it would spread from here.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:10 PM on May 23, 2005


hmm, reading the list:

"Terrorists might pull up a railroad rail here and there"

this had actually crossed my mind in the late 90s, when arguing on usenet about the desirability of bullet trains in the US, that any really great system would be one hell of a terrorist target.

This was after the african embassy bombings.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:23 PM on May 23, 2005


"Terrorists might overload the WalMart express checkout lane by writing a check"

OMG... my day would come to a screeching halt!
posted by PrincessLara at 10:32 PM on May 23, 2005


I don't think that you're paranoid, Heywood Mogroot, so much as merely superstitious. Lots of people are afraid of verbalizing their greatest fears lest they come true.

For instance, many people are afraid of just the word "cancer" and won't even say it out loud. They say "The Big C" or something similar. I think that you are in fear of this "simple every-day device that is not radiological or otherwise detectable and can be carried in the palm of the hand" and that is why you pussyfoot around it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:41 PM on May 23, 2005


Baby_Balrog, do you honestly think there aren't terrorists in this country or are you just trying to be cute?

You really need to see the BBC Series The Power of Nightmares. There's no evidence whatsoever that there are terrorists on American soil, plotting another attack. With the terrorism threat constantly in the news, and shows like 24, it's hardly surprising that the vast majority of the American public is so paranoid about it. And it's complete rubbish. Look at that list. There are a whole load of really easy things "terrorists" could do to disrupt the country. That they haven't suggests to me that they aren't there in the first place.
posted by salmacis at 2:13 AM on May 24, 2005


I think that you are in fear

No. This millions of dollars of damage from this device (which term I used rather loosely, btw, to refer to what the harmful agent is) would not affect me directly in the slightest.

It is similar to some of the items in that list. Anyone with experience living where I do would also know what it is.

Now, I also do not think there are any AQ "sleepers" in the US right now. AQ is not a bogeyman to me.

But the point is that destruction takes 0.1% of the energy and resources of building, and militant terrorists have proven themselves willing and able to execute bold plans, and a responsible course of action for me is to just not take any risk of publicizing this particular vulnerability.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:26 AM on May 24, 2005


Why haven't they done any of these things? We could all come up with a few scenarios which would require minimum effort and cause complete chaos in America and yet they don't seem to be happening. Are the security services that good or is it simply the threat does not exist?

Or is it that the resultant backlash would be so out of proportion that it is not worth the effort. Now if you could frame your enemy as the perpetrators of an attack like this, wow, that would be a smart move.
posted by fullerine at 3:24 AM on May 24, 2005


fullerine: The threat is sufficient. As Tom Petty so wisely sung in one of his earlier songs.

They don't have to do anything every week, month, or year. Every decade would suffice fine.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:59 AM on May 24, 2005


Three Blind Mice:
Thank you, I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing regarding trash bins (something that puzzled me when I moved there, before someone explained)
posted by Goofyy at 6:27 AM on May 24, 2005


"... except to this day you cannot find a trashcan in the tube."
There is (or has been, in the recent past) a bin on the westbound platform at Taunton. A safe distance (like, 130 miles) from the tube, certainly, but possibly noteworthy because it seems to be the only bin anywhere on the British railway network.
posted by Lebannen at 9:03 AM on May 24, 2005


They used to have bins on the Welsh parts of the rail network but they disappeared. This had nothing to do with the IRA, it saves the money used to employ someone to empty them.
posted by fullerine at 9:08 AM on May 24, 2005


A simple every-day device that is not radiological or otherwise detectable and can be carried in the palm of the hand. [...] This millions of dollars of damage from this device (which term I used rather loosely, btw, to refer to what the harmful agent is) would not affect me directly in the slightest. -- Heywood Magroot

Is it a tiny kitty cat? OMG I hope it is. A tiny, infernal kitty cat, trained to unleash destruction but never harm its owner!

Wait. Is it a Bic lighter? Cuz that could actually work.

Is it a really, really pungent apple-flavored magic marker?

Is it a teeny tiny but utterly unstable cold fusion implosion? A tesseract? One of Britney Spears' implants?

Is it Bill Frist's brain?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2005


Well that's it then, I'm not eating any more peanut butter if it poses a greater risk to my safety than a terrorist attack.

Actually, I know these things to be true. I know that I'm about ten times more likely to die in a car accident than in a plane crash and all those other stats.

But just like I never let my "How the police could be alot more effective in busting people" posts ever see the light of day. Let them come up with the ideas on their own, I'm not gonna help 'em.

I keep thinking back to the DC sniper shootings and how two people effectively slowed down the eastern seaboard. It wouldn't take much to grind the nation to a slow crawl.
posted by fenriq at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2005


the contents of a standard test tube being able to cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to where I live

If you mean agriculture, it doesn't sound hard to do. For example:
Canada thistle is declared a "noxious weed" throughout the U.S. and has long been recognized as a major agricultural pest, costing tens of millions of dollars in direct crop losses annually and additional millions costs for control. [The Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group]
They could select the right species of little buggy-wugs (that would be test-tube sized, wouldn't it Heywood? eggs and seeds and spores?) and watch the crops and livestock (and people, of course) die all over America. And they could contaminate lakes and rivers with nasty species. You wouldn't need to know how to fly a crop duster to be able to sprinkle things around. Drop things in remote places that link to important places (like swamps and streams draining into major rivers) and let them breed. Release infected fleas and mosquitos and rats. Release GM crops that would make anti-GM nations stop buying certain major US crops. And there's always mad cow disease, if you want to shut down the beef industry.

Some hints for you terrorists out there. From the US government.
posted by pracowity at 2:15 PM on May 24, 2005


Let them come up with the ideas on their own, I'm not gonna help 'em.

Because, you know, They Are All Over Your Blog.

Speaking of which, thanks for the 733t hax1ng tip. Expect some spam in your inbox from me soon.

Mine will be the one with the lethal attachment.

Please click on it. Twice.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:27 PM on May 24, 2005


Systematic terrorist actions rely upon the tacit cooperation of the competent Middle East regimes and the incompetence of the rest of the regimes.

Through Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bush's re-election, the message has been sent and reinforced that the US would punish the regimes of its choice in the event of a subsequent attack on US territory. Those regimes, not being stupid, are doing their best to keep a lid on the terror networks.

The ugly truth is that our freedom not to be frisked for the privilege of entering the mall is being won everyday in the interrogation chambers of Riyadh and Amman...
posted by MattD at 3:09 PM on May 24, 2005


Ogre Lawless, you're right, I just checked my blog stats and, unless there are alot of terrorists on the east coast reading me, I don't get much of the terrorist blog traffic. So I guess I'll just start explaining how to best fuck up things in my town because no one will ever read it. Thank goodness your razor wit helped to set me straight. I was going to have trouble getting my enormous head through the doorway.

And thanks for the spam, I'll put in on the pile with the other 500 messages from in-bred morons.
posted by fenriq at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2005


for fuck sake Heywood, either tell us what it is or shut up. Your pussyfooting around it is just too much.
posted by puke & cry at 5:42 PM on May 25, 2005


I fail to see how your obscurity protects you more than Rob's, fenriq. This weblog of yours, its connected to the Internet, right. I assume you allow spidering such that the information is available by such platforms as Google, yes?

Understand the Internet, dude. You -never- have any idea of who is looking at your content, even with site logging.

Rob ain't no idiot. Its not like any of those plans are anything -really- meaningful. If you're that afraid of terrorists, they've won because you are dead already.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:53 AM on May 27, 2005


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